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Everything you need to know about yoga
WHAT IS YOGA?
An age-old question always arises about what is yoga? Every yoga teacher is frequently asked which form of yoga they practise or teach. There are no simple answers. Today, yoga is often equated with physical practices such as asanas, pranayamas, kriyas and so forth. Its philosophy is often neglected completely.
Devoid of a philosophical base, such physical practices can very well be any other form of exercise. It is said in the classical Hatha Yoga text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, that Hatha Yoga is to be practised for the purpose of Raja Yoga alone (kevalam rajayogaya), that is, for psychological evolution and spiritual ascent.
Benefits of yoga
- The physical benefits such as
- removal and alleviation of diseases,
- good health
- slimness of body
Forms of yoga
There are several forms of Yoga. Some have become very popular However, a great deal of ambiguity in traditional texts gave way to the multiplicity of interpretations. Raja, Tantra, Mantra, Laya, Hatha are the several more forms of yoga. These have been greatly modified today and due to the guru-shishya parampara (guru-disciple lineage) some of these practices carry the names of their respective gurus. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’. Diverse ideas of ‘yuj’ are given in the different scriptural texts; for instance, union or joining, reaching the highest state of absolute concentration (samadhi) as well as the ability to control the senses (samyama).
However, yoga is an all-encompassing term. It represents the means, the path and the end. It includes the entire person within its purview: the body, mind (emotions), intellect and consciousness (which has been the subject of much study and debate in both the philosophical world as well as the scientific community). In this article, a detailed discussion on what is yoga is avoided to eliminate confusion between its practices and different philosophical interpretations, as Indian philosophy has grown over centuries and its study is exceptionally multifaceted.
At The Yoga Institute, the physical practices of yoga have been interwoven with specific philosophical ideas. The next section briefly explains the concepts from one of the oldest philosophical schools, Samkhya.